A look ahead to as the basketball season heats up.
18 days from now, the NBA playoffs will begin. With professional basketball’s second season fast approaching, it is important to take stock of who is going to make the playoffs and what is going to happen when it all gets under way in two and a half weeks. With that in mind, here are six bold predictions for the 2013 NBA Playoffs.
- The Lakers will miss the playoffs: The Lakers play in Portland tonight (where they practically never win) followed by home games against playoff-bound foes Golden State, San Antonio, and Houston. I’m having trouble finding more than two wins for the Lakers in these last four games. It all adds up to the Utah Jazz taking the last playoff spot.
- Derrick Rose will not play this season: Ever since Rose tore the ACL in his left knee during last year’s playoffs, the constant watch for his return has been on. The fear was that the Chicago Bulls would force Rose to come back too early and do potentially career-threatening damage to his knee. Luckily though, it seems as if it’s Rose’s decision when to return and not the team’s. Rose seems to understand that taking four extra months off and coming back 100% in October is the best for everyone involved. Chicago’s season was defined when they snapped Miami’s 27 game win streak, the Bulls won’t make it out of the 1st round.
- The Thunder will regret trading James Harden: The Thunder had a decision to either trade Harden this past offseason, re-sign him long term, or play out this year and let him walk this July. The Thunder decided to trade him to Houston for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, and two draft picks. Martin is a good shooter, but can’t create his own shot or set up team mates while Lamb has been generally useless. With Harden, OKC couldn’t have beaten anyone. With him gone, the offense looks slower and more stagnant and Russell Westbrook has been even more prone to taking over games the bad way with forced shots that freeze out Kevin Durant. The Thunder will implode in the Western Final or perhaps sooner.
- The Miami Heat will lose less than three games before making the Finals: Milwaukee is terrible, that will be a sweep. The winner of the Brooklyn, Atlanta, and Chicago unholy triumvirate will be lucky to win one game. As for the New York and Indiana (and perhaps Boston?) winner, they could challenge the Heat, but none of those teams have enough to force a game seven.
- The Spurs will win the West: Last week I was so tempted to take Denver, the most fun team to watch in the league this season by far, but after Danillo Gallinari’s torn ACL, the Nuggets don’t have a chance. The Clippers can’t score in the half court, Memphis doesn’t have championship pedigree, and the Thunder are going to fall apart for reasons outlined above. That leaves the Spurs, the most consistent and fundamentally sound team in the association to win the West.
- The Heat will roll to a second consecutive championship: All due respect to Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Greg Popovich, but they are no match for the Heat. LeBron James is so far ahead of everyone else right now that no one can match him on either end of the floor. He has been dominating in the paint, hitting jumpers consistently, and setting up his teammates with open shots while locking down the opposing teams best player on defense. He will be named MVP (again) and the Heat will beat the Spurs in six games to clinch another championship.